Bryant becomes youngest to score 30,000 points

Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- It took him 17 years -- fighting and clawing every night -- but the competitive genius of Kobe Bryant wouldn't take a day off.
Bryant scored 29 points Wednesday night in a 103-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets to become the youngest player in NBA history to reach 30,000 points in a career.
At 34 years and 104 days old, Bryant surpassed the old mark held by Wilt Chamberlain (35 years, 179 days).
Only three other Hall of Famers -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan -- have reached 30,000. Bryant probably would have to stay healthy for at least another four seasons to come close to Abdul-Jabbar's all-time NBA scoring record of 38,387 points, but for now, 30,000 represents a good time to reflect and take a bow.
"That's pretty awesome," Bryant said. "These are players I respect tremendously and honestly grew up idolizing and learning a great deal from. It's a tremendous honor. I've just been very, very fortunate."
In terms of number of games played, Bryant (1,180 games) was the fifth fastest to the 30K mark, behind Chamberlain (941), Jordan (960), Abdul-Jabbar (1,101) and Malone (1,152).
Bryant entered the game needing 13 points to reach 30,000. He had eight in the first quarter and then broke through with a floating jumper in the lane over Robin Lopez with 1:16 left in the second quarter.
"I could hear the excitement from the crowd," Bryant said. "I was very appreciative of it. It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of year-in, year-out (work), continuing to push."
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, whose team won for only the second time in seven road games, said what he most appreciates about Bryant is his tunnel vision and competitiveness.
"It's remarkable -- and he's dealt with five championships," D'Antoni said. "That's the whole thing. It's not just individual stuff but what he does for the team."
Dwight Howard, who had 18 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots, said what he has grown to love from watching Bryant day after day is his attitude of never taking a vacation from the business at hand.
"He plays hard, night in and night out," Howard said. "It's a lot of points -- for anybody. It's well-deserved. He got his milestone. Now it's time to get something else."
The Lakers (9-10) trailed 48-47 at halftime but scored the first 13 points of the third quarter in a 4:07 span to take command.
Lakers forward Antawn Jamison said he's never seen a more dogged competitor than Bryant.
"He's had five rings, and he's not satisfied with that," Jamison said. "He wants two more."
Ryan Anderson led the Hornets (5-12) with a game-high 31 points.
"(Kobe is) a special player," Anderson said. "He deserves all the recognition that he gets."
Bryant flashed a big smile in the locker room.
"Throughout my career, I never really thought about (scoring records)," he said. "I just played year in and year out, and what comes, comes. Now, honestly, I don't know why I'm still working as hard as I am after 17 years. I enjoy what I do, and I think that's the thing I'm most proud of -- every day working hard at it. That's a lot of years I've worked."
NOTES: NBA commissioner David Stern was at the game to visit Hornets owner Tom Benson, tour the New Orleans Saints' facilities in Metairie, La., and get an update on Benson's plans to build new administrative headquarters and a practice facility for the Hornets next to the Saints' facilities. "They're using both organizations to help the other, and I think it's going very well," Stern said. ... The Hornets are reportedly interested in changing the franchise nickname to Pelicans. Stern said the Hornets have submitted five potential names to the league. "I don't have any objections to anything the Hornets want to do name-wise because I'm sure it will be sensible," he said. ... Stern said of Bryant's milestone: "It's great to see. I think Kobe, as a talent and a competitor, is up there on a pedestal with Michael Jordan." ... D'Antoni said his team's rough road start was easy to figure out: poor foul shooting (66.3 percent) and a high rate of turnovers (16.8 per game). "We're 30th (last in the NBA) and we're 30th in foul shooting, and those are two things when you're on the road -- you turn it over and you don't shoot foul shots -- you don't win," D'Antoni said. ... Even though Howard entered the game shooting just 59.2 percent from the foul line -- encouraging opponents to foul him late in games -- D'Antoni said his center's poor shooting was blown out of proportion. "He makes them (in practice)," D'Antoni said. "He'll get through it, and we'll get through it." Howard hit four of eight free throws Wednesday.

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